How To Pump Out Boat [Step By Step Guide]

How to pump out boat? A question most new boat owners will ask.  Let’s face it, who loves the dreaded task of pumping out your boat? If you do enjoy it, feel free to pump out our boats anytime. 

But joking aside, how do you actually go about pumping out your boat? You have a number of options available to you so we’ll discuss each in detail and give you a step by step on how to do this. 

Don’t worry, it’s not complicated and there is also a video guide below for those that prefer to see it in action.

Whether you are just pumping out your boat because it’s full of waste, you want to clean your boat or you are winterizing your boat, it’s obviously a very important thing to do. 

The last thing you want is a full or overflowing waste tank, an unpleasant experience for both you and your crew/passengers. And yes, we have seen that in the past! 

So what exactly are your options for pumping out a boat? Well, you have three main options. 

  1. You can pump it out at a local marina or at Boat Pumpout Facilities
  2. You can hire Pumpout Boats or Commercial Vessel Pumpouts to come and drain it for you 
  3. You can do all this manually at home (not recommended for beginners) 

We’ll get into each option below and don’t worry, you don’t even need to be technically savvy to do this if you are a first time boat owner. 

You’ll also find many people willing to help if you do this at your local marina. Oh and we’ll also talk costs below too. (it won’t break the bank) 

So let’s start with the first option, using a pump in your local marina.  

Local Marina Pump Out 

how to pump out boat

This is the most popular option for pumping out a boat. Simply use the facilities provided at your local marina.

Please keep in mind that some marinas may not having a pump out facility in place so look for a sign like the one above or simply contact them and ask. 

Find out BEFORE you go hauling or driving your boat to the nearest marina only to discover they don’t offer those services. 

Right, if your local marina has these facilities available, here’s a video guide on how to pump out your boat with this method.

(The video is skipped to 43 seconds where the process is explained) 

If you prefer the written instructions, you can read on. Before we go through a step by step, usually people or staff at your local marina are more than happy to assist you (especially if it’s your first time so don’t be afraid to ask for help) 

It’ll save you lots of time and once you see it in action for the first time, you’ll be good to go from then on. 

Step 1:

Sewage Pumpout System

Seems obvious but you’ll want to not forget this part. You wouldn’t stick your hand down a toilet would you? 

So get as much protection as you can from the nasty waste you’ll be pumping out. You can get these gloves from your local Walmart or Amazon really cheap. (under $10) 

Step 2:

Pumpout Program

You’ll want to open the waste deck fitting. This can be in different spots depending on what type of boat you have but you’ll be told where it is on your individual boat when you buy it so finding it shouldn’t be an issue. 

Keep in mind that this can be fitted tight so take your time removing it. 

We’ve seen many of these fittings get damaged and that is an unnecessary expense you could do without (even if it isn’t that costly, it’s a pain)

Step 3:

Boat Pollution

Every marina will have a different layout and some will have more than 1 suction hose. You’ll want to do this properly,so make sure there are no knots in the hose once it’s been fully extended. 

We’ve seen some nasty accidents in the past where these hose pretty much exploded (and you can imagine what happened next) 

Step 4: 

Pumpout Hose

You’ll want to lay the entire length of the hose out on the dock. You can then double check to make sure there aren’t any knots. 

It’s really important you don’t skip over this step. You want the suction to run smoothly without interference or clogging which can cause damage.(and leave you with a lot of cleaning) 

Step 5:

Stationary Pumpout Facilities

You’ll want to make sure you have loosened the valve before inserting the nozzle. 

Again, different marinas will have different hoses, nozzles so it may not be exactly the same for your local area but you get the idea either way. 

Step 6:

Vessel Sewage

Read the instructions at your local marina. Every pump is different so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the instructions of using the pump.

Some are vacuum tanks which may require you pushing more than one button or some are just simply on/.off switch to get it going. 

Don’t gloss over this, or you could break the pump which will obviously be annoying and costly. 

Step 7:

Pumpout Service

Next up, you’ll want to turn the pump on. Remember the hose is uncoiled and next to your boats waste fitting at this stage. 

Some of these pumps run on a timer so keep that in mind too. Again, it should be mentioned on the instructions of that particular pump  if there is a timer. 

Step 8: 

Shoreside Pumpout Stations

Okay, once you’ve followed the above steps, you’ll want to insert the rubber nozzle (or however it is on the pump you are using) into the waste hole. 

Make sure you have this securely connected. This is really important because you don’t want leaking waste spraying all over your deck, boat or onto the marina dock. 

If there are issues with the nozzle fitting onto your waste fitting, you might need to get an adapter. You can get one for around $40 - $50

Step 9: 

Boat Sewage Disposal

When you’ve completed the pump out, you’ll want to close the valve. Once the valve has been closed, you’ll need to remove the nozzle tip and lay it on the marina dock. (caution this could get messy so be careful)


Step 10:

Pumpout Location

Go back to the machine and turn off the pump 

Step 11: 

Shoreside Pumpout

Recoil the suction hose. Keep this neat and tidy so you don’t anger other users. You’d be surprised how some people leave it when they are done so don’t be that person. 

Step 12: 

Pumpout Service

Rinse off your deck and the area surrounding the waste hole with some water. You’ll want to make sure there is no leakage which can leave bad smells or bacteria. 

Finally, close of the waste hole and you are finished. You have successfully pumped out your boat waste and kept things clean and tidy in doing so. 

As a quick recap: 

Mobile Vessel Pump-Out Program

Boat pump out cost 

You’ll probably be wondering what all of this costs? Well, this varies from one marina to the next and your individual circumstances. 

The cost is assessed on a boat by boat basis but the average is $40 to do this. Now please keep in mind this is an average and some marinas might charge more or less. 

Make sure you are clear on the cost before you start pumping waste out of your holding tank. Obviously the larger the holding tank, the more expensive it can be but $40 is a rough ballpark to aim for in pricing. 

Now if you decide to go with a company that specializes in pumping out your boats holding tank, this cost will be much different as they will do everything for you from manually pumping it out and taking care of the waste in an environmentally friendly way. 

For people who hate sewage and don’t mind spending more, this is the perfect option for you. 

This leads us on nicely to your second option of pumping out your boat and that is a mobile pump out service. 

Vessel Pump-Out Service

Boat Pumpout Facilities
Image courtesy of

There are companies that can pump out your boat for you. You can find these usually listed at your local marina or through a simple google search in your local area. 

These services, as mentioned, will typically take care of everything for you so you don’t have to worry. 

What will hiring a company to pump up your boat cost?

You may spend anywhere up to $100 for tanks under 50 gallons and usually 0.30 - 0.50 cent extra per gallon above that. 

Again, do some shopping around and you may find it for much cheaper in your specific area. 

Some of these companies also offer regular pump outs that you can set up. (like a subscription model) 

You simply pay monthly, (or whatever time frame you choose) and they will come and do all the dirty work for you. 

This is especially handy if you regularly use the boat and fill the holding tanks.  If you go with a subscription type payment option, it works out cheaper than once off options with most companies.

Pumping Out Boat From Home

Vessel Pump-Out Service
Image courtesy of

The third and final option is to pump out your boat from home. It’s always important to have your boat clean and kept well. 

If you are a more of a D.I.Y. type of person, this might be the perfect option for you. This is especially important when winterizing your boat. 

You wouldn’t want a case where you have frozen waste in the holding tank over the winter months, would you? 

Obviously not! So doing this from home can get messy. 

How do you go about pumping out a boat from home? 

Well, you’ll need a self pump out kit, which can be costly; (approx. $1,000) depending on where you look. 

There are places where you’ll find these for cheaper  (if $1k is outside your budget) like craigslist, ebay or simply by asking someone at your local marina. 

As a word of caution, be wary of anything you buy online of this nature, especially used as it may not be fully operational. 

Essentially, the pump out kit acts in the same way as the pump out machine in a local marina only you own the machine and are responsible for the safe disposal of the waste. 


As we’ve shown, it’s fairly straightforward to pump out your boat and most local marinas will have a service available to do this. 

If you are completely new, we’d recommend hiring a pump out service to come and do this for you the first time, or ask someone at your local marina to assist. 

It can be a messy job if not done right, so be sure to follow the instructions in the video correctly. As a reminder, make sure to wear gloves to help keep as much bacteria off you and be sure to wash your hands when done. 

Also, as a matter of good marina and boating etiquette, make sure to put back the hose and turn off the pump properly and leave things tidy for the next person who uses it. 

And whether you pump out waste for the winter months or just need to remove waste because you tank is full, get in the practice of doing it regularly. 

Your boat may start to stink (which will annoy other boaters or passengers ) 

Also, don’t forget that every marina may have their own set of rules and instructions for pumping out a boat so please be aware of those too if this is the method you choose to have your waste removed. 

If you decide to go the DIY route, there are plenty of options you can use with the pump out kits or some other cheaper alternatives. 

Most people don’t like the DIY option but if it’s something you think you’d enjoy, then great ! 

So hopefully you have an understanding on how to pump out your boat. Good luck and happy pumping (if there is such a thing).